Cat Breeds


Isabel Hartley

The Somali cat is a bundle of energy wrapped in a silky coat of medium to long hair, and it’s easy to see why this breed captures the hearts of cat enthusiasts around the world.

Though they may look like they’ve put on a fox’s fluffy coat, Somalis are felines through and through, with a playful and intelligent nature that makes them engaging companions.

These cats boast a distinctively ticked coat, often in shades of ruddy, red, blue, and fawn, with the tips of the hair giving them a characteristic warm shimmer. Their bushy tails and large almond-shaped eyes, which can be green or gold, add to their striking appearance.

With their sociable and affectionate demeanor, Somalis are known to form strong bonds with their families, often following them around the house to satisfy their curiosity and join in on the action.

The Somali cat isn’t just a pretty face; they are active and agile, with a fondness for exploring their surroundings. This can sometimes lead to a bit of mischief, but it’s all part of their charm.

Owners should be ready for a pet that’s as interactive as they are beautiful—one who loves to play games and isn’t afraid to demand attention with their persuasive purrs and gentle nudges.

Origin and History

The Somali cat boasts an international tapestry of ancestry, with roots stretching from Australia to the United States. This breed is effectively the long-haired cousin of the Abyssinian.

It’s believed that the trait for long hair was initially the result of a natural mutation within the Abyssinian gene pool.

In the early 20th century, some Abyssinians in the United States began showing these longer locks, sparking interest among cat breeders.

These particular Abyssinians, carrying the recessive long-haired gene, were selectively bred to encourage this trait. This breeding gave rise to what would become known as the Somali cat.

The Somali made a grand entrance on the feline fancy scene when it was recognized in the late 1970s. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in North America officially acknowledged the breed in 1979, signaling a new chapter for these fluffy felines.

Not long after, Europe also opened its doors to the breed, accepting them in 1982. Somalia’s charming ways and striking looks quickly garnered admirers worldwide, with broad international acceptance by 1991.

One must note, however, that some regions were slower to recognize the Somali cat, reflecting the breed’s gradual climb to global recognition.

Despite these hurdles, today’s Somalis carry a legacy that is both charming and cherished by cat enthusiasts worldwide.

Physical Characteristics

The Somali cat boasts a luxurious, ticked coat and an athletic body that embodies wild elegance. These cats are known for their striking appearance, which mirrors the wild fox’s bushy tail and vibrant coat.

Coat and Color

Somali cats wear a medium-long, silky coat that’s fine in texture. Their distinctive fur is tickled, featuring bands of color on each hair shaft. The coat comes in several colors, which include:

  • Ruddy: Deep, burnt-sienna color
  • Sorrel: Lighter, cinnamon shade
  • Blue: Diluted color, warm slate gray
  • Fawn: Soft, cocoa-like hue

Each hair on a Somali’s body, except for their darker extremities, displays the ticked pattern that’s a hallmark of the breed.

Body Structure

They exhibit the moderately stocky and muscular build characteristic of a medium-sized cat. Key features of their body structure include:

WeightTypically ranges from 8-12 pounds
HeightStands at about 8-10 inches at the shoulder
TailBushy and thick, resembling a fox’s tail
EarsSmall with a wide base, slightly forward tilt

With their lithe and athletic physique, Somali cats display grace in motion, whether playfully leaping or quietly prowling.

Behavior and Temperament

The Somali cat is known for its playful and intelligent nature. These cats often exhibit a strong sense of curiosity and love to explore their environment.

It’s not uncommon to find them climbing to high places or investigating every corner and crevice of their home.

  • Affectionate: They tend to form strong bonds with their owners and can be quite affectionate.
  • Sociable: Somali cats usually enjoy the company of humans and may also get along well with other pets if properly introduced.
  • Active: They possess a lively energy that sees them engaging in play throughout their lives, not just as kittens.

Somalis are also mischievous at times, which can be both endearing and slightly challenging for their owners. They’re good at keeping themselves entertained but do best with interactive toys and regular playtime to satisfy their zest for activity.

  • Interactive play: Encouraged to keep them stimulated.
  • Mental enrichment: Puzzle toys can help channel their intelligence in a positive way.

Their vocalizations tend to be soft and they’re not known for being overly noisy. In terms of companionship, they enjoy being part of the action and often can be described as ‘little helpers’, following their owners around the house.

  • Vocalization: Usually soft and gentle.
  • Companionship: They like being close to their human companions and participating in daily activities.

Care and Health

The Somali cat is known for its vigorous personality and stunning coat that requires regular grooming. Keeping up with their care is essential for their overall well-being, including their diet, grooming, and monitoring for any health concerns.

Grooming Needs

Somali cats boast a long, luxurious coat that doesn’t mat easily but still requires attention. Regular brushing at least twice a week is crucial to keeping their fur silky and reducing shedding. It’s also a bonding experience they usually enjoy.

Besides brushing:

  • Nail trimming should be done as needed.
  • Teeth brushing with vet-approved toothpaste can prevent dental issues.
  • Their ears should be checked weekly and cleaned if they look dirty.

Diet and Nutrition

Somalis are active cats, requiring a balanced diet rich in protein. As with all cats:

  • Fresh water should always be available.
  • A mix of wet and dry food supports hydration and dental health.
  • It’s generally recommended to avoid free-feeding to prevent weight gain.

Health Concerns

They’re relatively healthy, but being proactive about health is vital. Some potential health issues include:

  • Genetic conditions such as pyruvate kinase deficiency (a blood disorder).
  • Dental disease, like many breeds, so dental care is important.
  • They may also be prone to conditions of the kidneys and liver.

Regular vet check-ups can catch any potential problems early.

Frequently Asked Questions

Satisfying the curiosity surrounding the Somali cat breed, this section delves into the unique traits and care specifics of these feline companions.

What personality traits make Somali cats stand out as pets?

Somali cats are lively, playful, and intelligent, often proving to be engaging and interactive pets. They are known for their active nature and enjoy a good game or puzzle.

How do Somali cat colors vary, and what are the most common hues?

The coat of a Somali cat typically shows a rich, ticked pattern with a variety of colors such as red, ruddy, blue, and fawn, with ruddy being the most commonly seen shade.

Can you explain why Somali cats have their name and if it reflects their origin?

Somali cats received their name as a nod to Somalia, neighboring Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia), reflecting their connection to Abyssinian cats. However, the breed did not originate from Somalia.

How does the Somali breed conform to the breed standards, and what are its unique features?

Somali cats are medium-sized, with an athletic build and long-haired coats that possess a unique tick pattern. Their bushy tails and alert ears contribute to their distinctive “fox-like” appearance.

What should I know before getting a Somali cat, considering its health and care requirements?

They generally live 9–13 years and require a moderate to high level of care. Their long coats need regular grooming, and they thrive on interaction, so they should not be left alone for long periods.

Are Somali cats typically affectionate, and do they enjoy being cuddled?

Somali cats tend to be very social, often seeking attention and affection. They typically enjoy being cuddled and are known to form strong bonds with their human companions.